Where to Start When it Hurts

It's not always easy. Devastating hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, neo-Nazis, threats of nuclear war. The outer reflecting the inner. Our fraught history, and all the decisions we've ever made, collectively bubbling up. 


Trauma, grief, love, and healing are up right now. 


Yesterday I came across one of the best and most clarifying podcasts I've ever heard. (It's worth the entire 2 hours. Please be aware that it starts with a trigger alert. To hear the whole thing click here). It's about spiritual trauma - what happens when harm is done at the most fundamental place in our soul, the place that is supposed to be our way home to ourselves. But it goes deeper - it's about everything in a way - about healing and hurt and holding space and authenticity and alignment. 

What it brought up for me is the fact that this kind of break happens across the spiritual spectrum, from organized religion all the way over to new age gurus and cults. Wherever the authentically spiritual becomes co-opted by people to control others, harm is done in the most fundamental part of our human psyche. And we pass that along, generation to generation. The expert on the show argues that, in fact, all trauma is spiritual trauma, because it manifests in the body and is recognized and stored at the most primal physiological level.


And it can only be healed at that level, starting with the breath, and working with the body. 


It points directly at the mind-body-spirit connection and the power of having a spiritual practice that affirms our personal power, boundaries, and innate wholeness, independent from anything external. 

It also brings up the shadow. Because we can only heal by facing our own darkness. We can only end cycles of violence and oppression and denial by bringing the subconscious into the conscious. By bringing light to the dark. Individually and collectively.


We change the patterns of damage in front of us by ending the patterns of damage within us.


There are two paths here: 1) avoid and deny the pain, and repeat it, or 2) face the pain, heal and resolve it. Only from path 2 can we truly move forward. And, real talk: here on earth, we don't have a lot of time left to keep denying and repeating our pain. It will just get louder and crazier until we face it, heal it, assimilate it, and move forward in peace. As a dear friend said the other day, "grief wants her voice." Grief is a profound teacher. She touches us all and she won't be denied in the long run. Our hearts are built to take in all the pain, feel it, alchemize it and expand with love. We are big enough to meet our pain with compassion.


In the coming year, I'll be sharing more about my personal spiritual journey and sharing the tools and resources that I've learned along the way.


Today, I'm sharing three things. The first two are the books handed to me when I first walked into therapy in 2010. For those who believe therapy is for the weak, I can tell you, it became my very first practice in telling the truth to myself. My practice before I had a practice. I realize it's a luxury - I have happened to have wonderful health insurance and have been blessed to be able to sustain it all this time. I wish the same for everyone. These books changed my life forever for the better. They are:


1) Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg

2) Waking the Tiger by Stephen Levine


And finally, this forgiveness ceremony is one of the most powerful I've ever encountered. Think of it less as forgiveness and more as clearing a space, releasing ties, and freeing yourself and others of negative baggage. It is unabashedly spiritual and incredibly practical. You can find it here: 


Ho'oponopono: A Powerful Way To Forgive


Breathe. Go in. Breathe.

"The cure for pain is in the pain." - Rumi




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